Smoke Gets in Your Ears

I... just... can't get you out of my head...

I… just… can’t get you out of my head…

or Being Yourself

Interesting experience recently. I spent a fair bit of time working on live sound and recording for a band with another pianist (a really very good one), then went straight out to do a gig of my own…

Well I rather struggled to click somehow. It was only halfway through the gig that I realised why. I had this other guy’s sound in my ears. Wasn’t consciously trying to channel him, he was just … still in my ears.

Mentioned it afterwards to my drummer and he said he’d experienced the same thing. Sometimes he’s spent loads of time listening to a great player and found it works against him because, in spite of himself, he finds himself trying to be somebody else. And ending up as neither.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting you just ignore other musicians. Far from it. Listen and learn. And I’ve often done a bit of listening in the runup to a gig for two reasons:

  • to absorb the feel of some of the tunes I’ll have to do – maybe cop a few ideas here and there
  • to just absorb a general kind of feel – put myself in a certain space

But I reckon there’s also something to be said for the old boxing wisdom of not fooling around just before a bout.

I think that when the gig starts, there’s only one person you can be. Any thoughts, people?

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Posted in c) Musicianship, e) Rants & Ramblings
One comment on “Smoke Gets in Your Ears
  1. Adam Cole says:

    Unfortunately, many people are capable of being someone else on the gig. It gives you a kind of empty feeling to hear them, like eating cotton candy. In the end, many people who don’t know anything about jazz listen and think they were supposed to have enjoyed it, because the player was so “good,” and when they don’t because the person was just pretending to be someone else, they end up thinking they just must not like jazz. It’s hard to have a real conversation when you’re speaking someone else’s lines.

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